As was signalled back in February when the key features of the JCT 2016 Edition were announced, the Minor Works Building Contract does not represent a significant change of direction, but rather develops, consolidates and clarifies concepts and processes contained in earlier versions. Throughout, it is clear that thought has been put into simplifying the language used and restructuring the format to improve clarity.

This approach is evident in the changes that have been made around valuation and payment. The new edition makes provision for defined interim valuation dates, by reference to which the due dates for interim payments are defined. Payments are due monthly whether they fall before or after practical completion whereas previously, post-completion payments were spaced two months apart. Explicit provision is now made for contractors to issue payment notices. This clarification will likely be a welcome reflection of common practice on the part of contractors who under previous versions were envisaged as applying for payment only if an interim certificate wasn't issued.

A pragmatic, common sense approach is also taken to the question of insurance, with the most notable changes being to the insurance of existing structures under Option C. The new drafting allows for flexibility in this respect and acknowledges that arrangements will vary depending on the circumstances. A new footnote in the Particulars section urges inexperienced Employers to consider insurance arrangements early and to obtain advice.

A new clause provides for termination by either party in cases of material loss or damage to existing structures, if it is just and equitable to do so. It remains to be seen whether the uncertainty inherent in this wording causes more headaches than it is intended to address.

The 2016 editions also refer to BIM and reflect the updated CDM Regulations.

We await to see what changes are in store for the rest of the 2016 suite – watch this space!